Jennifer Luftop, M Ed, CALT, LDTVP
Legislative Committee of the Texas Chapter of ALTA
1. Tell us about yourself, personally, and teaching experience.
Hi! I’m Jennifer Luftop! I am a Dyslexia and RTI Coordinator for a large district in Central Texas. I live with my husband of 31 years, two cats (Pete and Margot), and a 150 pound Great Dane. My husband and I have two children, a son, Zachary, who is a band director at a high school in Houston, and our daughter, Gabby, who is a 4-6 grade teacher at a Montessori charter school. Gabby and her husband have two amazing daughters, Lily, 5 months, and Nora, 2 ½ years. We cannot get enough time with them!
I have taught in the public education setting for 17 years. I have worked in grades K-12 as a reading interventionist and as a dyslexia intervention teacher, as well as in general education as an ELA teacher. For a year, I worked at Neuhaus Education Center in the Professional Learning department but then decided to go back to public education. I’ve been an instructional coach for two years and am starting my second year as a Dyslexia and RTI Coordinator.
2. Why did you become a dyslexia therapist?
While working in an elementary school setting as a dyslexia intervention teacher, I felt I was not making adequate progress with my students. Living in the Houston area, I began talking to those who had gone through Neuhaus Education Center’s dyslexia specialist program and decided I too wanted to be part of that elite club! My husband calls us “CULTs” because we are all so passionate about literacy and helping students learn to read! Simultaneously, I obtained a Master’s in Reading from Concordia University.
3. TALTA monitors legislation affecting dyslexia, which piece of legislation do you feel will impact our members most, and why.
I am most concerned with the proposed changes to The Dyslexia Handbook, especially the elimination of the majority of the dyslexia screening criteria in Kindergarten and 1st grade. I have seen firsthand the impact this screening has had on the amount of referrals we have received for students who may have been overlooked and not identified until later in elementary, usually after self-esteem has diminished and the gaps in reading are quite extensive.
4. TALTA sponsors a summit each January, which speaker are you most excited to hear and why?
I cannot wait to hear Elsa Cardenas-Hagen! She is such an amazing speaker and has immense knowledge on the aspects of language acquisition for students who struggle with reading.
5. Helping children become readers is the goal of every dyslexia therapist. Can you recommend an inspirational children’s book for a child/family on that journey?
I absolutely love If You’re So Smart, How Come You Can’t Spell Mississippi: An Encouraging Book About Dyslexia and Growth Mindset for Kids and a Resource for Teachers and Parents (The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses). It tells the story of a young girl with dyslexia whose father also has dyslexia. It’s a very sweet read.